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This may come as a surprise, but finding more leads is really pretty easy. And free.

I’m a salesperson, just like many of my readers. Sure, I do lots of other things in my job – write, speak, make videos, take photos, travel – but trust me: None of that happens if I don’t make a sale. In fact, I need to make 50+ sales a year. But I don’t complain: When I was in high school, I had to make fifty sales a week working as a telemarketer. I’m pretty happy with my current quota.

Like most salespeople, much of my business comes from my sphere of influence: Past clients, business contacts, friends and family, plus peers in the speaking industry. With a lot of hard work, I’m fortunate to book about 90% of my sales from repeat customers and referrals. From what other salespeople tell me, that’s the norm for high performers in any sales industry. Still, that means I must add some “new” prospects each year to make my budget, and achieve my goals.

So whats’ my strategy?

You might think I buy a lot of SEO or pay-per-click ads: Nope, not a dime’s worth. If I get any help from search engines, it’s through my content: blogs, videos and comments on websites that get a lot of traffic. For me, it’s more fun, creative, and direct way to show prospects what I can do for them by simply doing it. Better still, it permits commenting, discussions and dialogue I can turn into private calls and correspondence. That, of course, is what it means to sell. 

What about email lists? Yes, I have a nicely cultivated list of contacts. How many? Less than a thousand. Why so few? Because I opt for quality, not quantity. I can’t follow up on ten thousand readers; or a hundred thousand. But I can follow up on a few dozen people out of 1000 who open my emails and, for some, write back. Again: Sales. Volume isn’t the same as closings. Meanwhile, I keep an even smaller list of under two hundred people who mean a lot to me, and who I mean a lot to (I hope). I email each of them, one at a time, once in a while, with a personal message. Those personal messages start conversations, that I then close, about a third of the time, into new business.


What about ads in social networks? Well, I might do a “boost” once in a while on Facebook. Mostly I boost blog posts or photo/messages I really want others to enjoy. I generated maybe a half-dozen sales last year from social media boosts, and another half-dozen simply by liking the posts of people I want to stay connected with. Really easy.

But still, mostly sales.

So, what does all of this mean? Well, I guess it’s just a roundabout way of saying: I don’t get salespeople who pay for leads.

Really, is it that hard to sell? Share some thoughts in a blog post. Talk through YouTube. Follow up with an acquaintances. Jump into a social conversation. Heck: Pick up the phone. It still works, and it’s really cool to have a conversation these days. Texting only satisfies so far.

Finding new business isn’t magic.

Just set aside time in your schedule to do the most important activity of your career. And, keep it simple. Contact three people a day, any way you want. Three a day, five days a week, sixty a month. Mix it up – past clients, business colleagues, some people who opened your emails. Over time, that’s plenty of conversation starters annually to fill your pipeline.

Now imagine if you followed up with two daily?

Besides: Who wants to be swamped with 100 inquiries a day, to respond to, qualify, sort, save, and somehow offer a meaningful interaction? I’m a salesman, not a circuit board.

So, start five conversations a day for a month. See what happens. If you haven’t primed your pipeline  enough by then, you can still run up your credit card with some lead-genie out there. If it turns out you don’t need to pay for leads, well, then, you can always send me a Starbucks gift card with the money you saved.

It’s really up to you.